I spent a considerable amount of time last Wednesday considering whether I should stop calling myself a Christian. That's not because I stopped believing in Jesus, but rather because I do believe in him.
As people told me not to worry because ultimately 'God's in control', evangelical leaders laid out their own personal defences of arguably the most immoral man the US has ever elected as President, and those close to me who don't believe in Jesus asked: 'How could Christians have voted Trump in?' – I started to feel seriously out of place in my own faith.
I can understand some of the reasons evangelical leaders voted for Trump, and I know many have their own moral framework that would make it difficult to vote Democrat, but what stunned me to silence was the unashamed belief and assertion that Trump's victory in the US elections was undoubtedly all in God's plan. No 'flawed candidate' rhetoric, no language of tough choices and imperfections on both sides, but unapologetic endorsement backed up with pick-and-mix theology.
I fail to understand how leaders who so often call for a return to morality, truth, purity, and faithful marriages can so publicly endorse a man who boasts of sexually harassing women, displays racist attitudes in front of crowds of thousands and so blatantly lies. At best it comes across as unbearably naive. At worst, arrogant and hypocritical.
Why would I want in any way to associate with these hugely influential faith leaders who undoubtedly helped secure Trump's seat in the White House? Do we even profess the same faith when our differences feel like a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon?
I began to wonder whether I should start calling myself 'A follower of the way' or a follower of Jesus, as Shane Claiborne advocates. Claiborne argues for Red Letter Christianity which seeks to live by the words of Jesus. Surely one who does this cannot ignore his mission statement, the Sermon on the Mount when he blesses the meek, the poor and the peacemaker – qualities I have yet to see Trump exhibit.
I don't want people to think that I'm part of the merry clan who supported a misogynistic, xenophobic, climate change denier into power. Those values are not my values, they are not what I read when I look in the Bible. Looking out at the world, deeply divided, fearful, disconnected and angry; they are not the values I think are going to heal us.
But in my tussle with this I recognise that if I make a choice to disassociate with Christianity, I am in fact creating more divides. It's also inaccurate to state that all Christians in America voted for Trump – it was white evangelicals who overwhelming supported him. Certainly many are distraught at his victory and I encourage them to raise their voices. Jesus prays that the Church will be one – and if any form of unity is to come we'll have to pull together rather than apart.
But, right now I need to let the rage burn through me, and the grief pour out before hope can start to live again and I seek to build bridges. This is too important to let it wash over us with platitudes and dodgy theology. It's time to dig into what Jesus said and pray he shows us the way to live according to his words.